Should we put ads in space to fund human exploration of the solar system?

Imagine, instead of looking up and seeing the stars, you see something like this: Coca-Cola ads are seen on billboards, magazines, online and now in space.

How would this affect our night sky? How would it change space travel? And is this something you’ll see one day?

So, will we ever see ads in space? The answer is most likely. A Russian company has begun prototyping what that might look like.

They want to place thousands of briefcase-sized satellites nearly 500,000 km (310685 miles) from the surface of the Earth. These satellites would reflect light from the Sun and be seen during the night on Earth.

Luckily these things will only be up for about 6 minutes or so, before they move on to another part of the Earth. But even when we don’t see them, they’ll still affect our world. Why?

The first thing you’d notice with ads in space would be a lack of stars — due to light pollution. Light pollution around the world is already bad enough. With big bright ads in space, you can expect it to get even worse.

Even if you don’t see any ads, there’s a good chance you’ll still see the effects of them. Because light from the ads would be impossible to control, you’d likely be seeing radiant light coming off of them.

Ads in space may be the start of a world without stars. Not only would this make the sky less pretty, it would also affect astronomical research.

Observatories and astrologists would be rendered practically useless. Without astronomy, it’d be challenging to learn anything new about space.

Eventually, the advertising could become so overwhelming that the entire sky is taken up with ads and that’d be all you’re able to see. And unfortunately, this could become a reality.

That’s because, according to the United Nations Outer Space Treaty, no one can own space. So technically, companies could advertise anywhere around the world. That is as long as they get permission from the country they’re departing from.

A country you wouldn’t get permission to deploy a space ad is the United States. That’s because logos in space that can be seen from Earth have been banned. Even though they won’t let space ads depart from their country,
who’s to say a company from Europe wouldn’t fly their own ads to be put above America?

If there are tons of ads in space, another thing we need to worry about is more space junk. Space is pretty unpredictable, and with more and more objects hovering above the Earth, a number of things could happen.

There’s always the chance these ads could get hit by meteors and asteroids and then collide into our satellites. If our satellites go down, this would affect everything from communications, power lines and transportation systems.

It might sound like a bleak reality, but there is one good thing that could result from space-advertising. If companies were to pay to put their ads in space, they’d have to pay space companies to get them up there.

This could be a way of pumping money into space exploration, an already criminally underfunded industry. If a company is willing to spend millions of dollars for a 60 second commercial during the Super Bowl, imagine how much they would pay to get their ad in space?

With more money being funneled into companies like NASA they could use it to explore more of our Solar System.

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